Updating the Guernsey Museum at Candie
Work to update galleries at the Guernsey Museum at Candie continues to make good progress.
The project sees the introduction of new displays at the museum, covering the subjects ‘Collecting the World’ and ‘First People’. The work concentrates on two levels of the museum and is currently scheduled to reach completion during spring 2017.
Once work is complete on the project, the museum will continue to showcase a beautiful array of displays, featuring some of the most fascinating finds in the world, including large plant fossils and stone axes, as well as a collection of Blaschka glass pieces – unique works of art created by Bohemian glassblower, Leopold Blaschka (1822 – 1895) and his son, Rudolf (1857 – 1929). Many existing pieces will be returning in new displays, complete with all-new graphics, updated information and interactive elements.
A great deal of care, attention and thought is going into this project, to ensure the new displays meet the requirements of visitors, both old and new. The work – which is taking place while the museum remains open to public – has been carefully planned and best museum practices are being adhered to throughout.
Speaking to Premier Construction about the project, Paul Le Tissier, Design & Development Officer for the Committee for Education, Sport & Culture, said:
“Guernsey Museum & Art Gallery was built in 1978 and was one of the few purpose-built museums to be created around this time. The original building won the European Museum of the Year Award in 1979 and has remained a popular museum ever since.
“Over the years, as with all museums, the galleries need to be updated, usually on a basis of around every ten to 15 years, so this is the third time that displays at the museum have been updated.”
“My job has been to design the museum displays and work with contractors and subcontractors, printers, artists, curators and more in order to create the museum’s new galleries. While the majority of the work on the project is now complete, work will shortly begin on one final gallery. Once this phase of work is finalised, all the museum displays will have been upgraded.”
A key element of the gallery upgrade scheme is the introduction of a new ramp, which has been installed to improve wheelchair access.
“To make the flow around the galleries better, certainly for wheelchair users, but really for everybody, we’ve introduced a new ramp. The displays have been built around this ramp.”
AFM have been responsible for the building work on the project, which has included the construction of a new floor and the new ramp, while Paul’s Joinery are responsible for the fit-out works, including the construction of the timber displays. Specialist glass and lighting manufacturers have also been drafted in to work on the museum, along with UK-based sculptors.
“One of the most challenging aspects of the project is bringing all of the different elements together, making sure everybody knows what they are doing and when they need to do it by. Timing is crucial.”
Working on a project like this has presented the team with a few challenges, but has also allowed Paul and the team the opportunity to create unique, fit-for-purpose displays that enhance everything the museum has to offer.
“When people look at what we do, it can quite easily look like traditional shop fit-out works, but this isn’t quite right as we are primarily concerned with the preservation and interpretation of museum objects. As a specialist museum designer we often over-engineer the elements, but this is important because we are looking at lighting, the way in which dust can get into the displays, how movement can affect displays and various other aspects unique to this type of project. My main aim is to preserve all the museum’s objects and artefacts.”
“We’re hoping that when people visit the Guernsey Museum at Candie, they come here to discover what makes Guernsey unique and when they leave they will have a much better understanding of the Iron Age, Stone Age and the Bronze Age. To back this up further, we have a rolling programme of temporary exhibitions aimed at repeat visitors and we have a range of facilities, including family areas, a shop, café and more, to provide appeal for both locals and tourists alike.”